RIP: Frank Bond, 1943- 2013

Frank Bond, of Santa Fe New Mexico, one of the four founders of the Peregrine Fund; lawyer, rancher, principled politician, father, old- fashioned but innovative conservationist; old friend; perhaps first, in his own mind,  falconer, died of a swift- moving cancer last week.

The scion of a wealthy sheep -ranching family in northern New Mexico, one that once held the grazing leases in Valles Caldera, he grew up in Espanola, and spoke Spanish as well as he spoke English. He attended school at Governor Dummer Academy in Massachusetts and Colorado College before getting a Master’s in Spanish at the University of Arizona and a law degree at UNM. With Jim Weaver, who later came to live, ranch,  and fly falcons in eastern New Mexico, Dr Tom Cade of Cornell, who was born here down near the Bootheel, and Bob Berry, then of Philadelphia but now in Wyoming, he founded the Peregrine Fund, which then built the breeding barns at Cornell. Those became the first mass breeding facilities in the world, run by Jim. The Cornell quonset huts were the “factory” that fueled the restoration of the species in the lower 48, an effort manned for years entirely by falconers, who gave up their summer time and amenities to babysit birds in places ranging from urban to remote. (They did not “bring it back from extinction”, as the ignorant often say, though they did just that with the Mauritius kestrel). Those that scorn the Fund’s deliberately mixed- gene hack birds as Cornell chickens are probably jaded by seeing the now- common birds in eastern cities; without Cornell and the P- Fund  barns we might still have only the Colorado plateau birds and a few southern “Peale’s” birds on the coast of Washington breeding in our entire country south of Alaska.

I honestly thought Frank might be the one to provide the bridge between
nuevo “Green” enviros and old school ranchers, hunters, and game
biologist types, and when he ran for governor on the Republican ticket in 1990, I not only supported him but worked for and with him in Socorro and Catron counties (later I will post about one hilarious incident on the campaign trail). He was a rancher, a founder of the P- Fund, and a long- time trustee of Alan Savory’s Holistic Range Management group, whose intense short- term grazing and constant movement can revive desperately overgrazed, “ruined” land. He was both an early supporter of project Lighthawk and a connoisseur of fine guns who hunted big game in Africa. He loved his Gyrfalcons more than any other birds, but was also a serious pigeon racer; his loft was designed by an architect after some adobe structures he had seen in Spain. He offered me the plans once, but I had a feeling they would cost me as much as my (granted tiny, 4 room), house to build, so I thanked him and regretfully declined. He attended race meetings  where there were few Anglos and probably no other rich men.

When he lost by not too much to his friend (and ranch lessee!) Bruce King, a genial old – fashioned hand- shaking pol who never forgot a face but was alleged to have referred to a roadrunner on his desk as “that ol woodpecker”,  I realized that today’s divisions had begun. When the Sierra Club deserted an eminent conservationist for a Democrat who never saw a cow he didn’t like or a bird he could identify, my in- laws quit an organization they had belonged to for over fifty years. Frank devoted the rest of his life to law and conservation, especially to international bird of prey issues. He himself never paid undue attention to partisanship; my lawyer friend Jessica Abberly, a lifelong Democrat, emailed me that he was “…one of the last true gentleman attorneys out there, by the way.”

I used to spend a lot of time with him and his then wife in Santa Fe, a time that included my early days with Libby, but time and space and the human realities of loss, breakup, rearing kids, kids leaving, travel and distance all contributed to our not having spent much time together in the last few years, and I realized when I heard that he was ill that I had not seen him but once in the last two years, and that for only a hurried handshake . I wrote to him of the campaign incident, hoping to raise a smile, and then he was gone.

He will be missed. The Peregrine Fund  continues to work with rare species like the Phillipine eagle and the orange- breasted falcon, and is playing a big part in trying to reverse the dire population crashes of Old World vultures, first in India and coming in Africa. Frank himself had moved on to working for the International Association for Falconry and Birds of Prey, where he served as president; when you see films of their meetings in the Czech Republic or the Emirates, you often see his silver belly Stetson hat, the only one present. His importance as a conservationist and a diplomat serving both nature and our sport can hardly be exaggerated.

But he was a private man for all that, and my best memories of him are of sitting around a large living room with the Havell Audubon print of life- sized black Gyrs and the original Reid- Henry painting of white Gyr head studies, telling stories. Some of us will always miss that unassuming, hospitable, soft- spoken friend, a fortunate  man who always gave more than he got,  and one who spoke as easily and with as much interest to his homeboys in Espanola as he did to international figures.

Another teaser

I will find out more. But this possible state record was taken about ten miles away, just north of Lee Henderson’s ranch where we hunt. The terrain in the middle photos is low down (well, only 6500 feet) and already rugged; similar rocky conditions prevail right up to the peak. Stay tuned…

We saw sheep, though no big rams, the day these were taken

The mountain is on the horizon behind the cholla in this photo taken on Lee’s, and on the horizon in the one taken looking north from the Magdalena range, with Lee’s ranch spread out between. Don’t let perspective fool you– it is over 9000 feet in elevation. Right click for larger on any…

Mattanza Magdalena

It has been a rough year for our town– four funerals in one family alone, no water for a month in summer, loss of our only food store. Perhaps my young friend Jason Otero, who is a guide and hound trainer among other skills, just decided to cheer everyone up. He staged a mattanza– literally a “killing”– a community pig roast. EVERYBODY came, despite near- freezing temps and fog. It was I think the best party yet of this century, though mattanzas were not rare events through the nineties. I think we should do one at least every six months. (These will enlarge if you right or double click).

Johnny Krynitz, Ty Scartaccini, Lib

Bar owner Darrel joins the conversation
Host Jason in the middle talking to guide Travis Tafoya; Jason’s mom Valerie to left

Update: I just realized that if you enlarge the fourth photo and look just above Valerie’s head you will see our highest local peak, South Baldy, at a little over 10, 700 feet. THAT’S why it is cold here.

La Loca

First there were my old friend John Davila, Catron County rancher, world traveler, jack of all trades… in the old days and today.

and his then wife Becky…

They were among the first friends I made in New Mexico. They are in Querencia- the- book in several places, and came up to Albuuquerque to comfort me with a bottle of Jack Daniels the day Betsy died.

Their daughter Ungie (Ungelbah Davila ), the complete New Mexico kid–Spanish, Navajo, Scots Mormon– is as good looking as her folks, and also a multimedia  talent in art, poetry, photography, and now as editor of her new  Albuquerque- based glossy magazine La Loca, which covers our local tricultural version of the Fifties- revival- rockabilly- punk- western- hotrods- motorcycles- pinup- and whatever else can be thrown in arts and visual culture. If some of it bemuses those of us who lived in the REAL fifties, it is still pure fun and a visual treat, and our version has a real local flavor.

Apparently, the style is more widespread than I thought. I just bought the excellent new album by Alberta’s rising star Corb Lund, Cabin Fever. He can sing about cows, oil rigs, and .44 Russian antique revolvers, but when I heard the lyrics below, to “Gothest girl I can”,  I knew I had to send them to Ungie.


Courtesy of Reid,we learn that UC Boulder has banned costumes based on Indians, cowboys, “Mexicans” and– costumes?!– white trash.

Having spent time at the bar today after the week’s second funeral, I can only conclude that any image of me or my neighbors is now verboten. (Images NOT from today– we don’t take pics at funerals, but every one is a local friend).

Monico Baca, whose funeral I just attended, owner Darrel, California- Montana transplant
Juan, one of our Spanish majority town’s three actual Mexicans, and a cowboy

 The ones above may not be what you think, (which individual above is ethnic Italian?)  but the last three may especially confuse the taste police: John Paul Jones Apachito (an Alamo Navajo) impersonating an Irishman on St Paddy’s; Tyler Chavez, half Italian miner and raised ranch Mormon, now getting back his patronym “Scartaccini”, and his wife Kayla;  Cody Henderson and Neal Harris– both half “Spanish” as we say here, but only Cody is considered “Hispanic”.

We as a society are more label- mad than white South Africans used to be, but not in “real integrated” Magdalena, thank God.

Oh– et moi, Boston ethnic cross who came here 30 very odd years ago…

Saint Patrick’s Day, Golden Spur

The Usual Suspects, in full Western- Irish- Rock & Country party mode. I have known John Paul Jones Apachito, aka Paul Jones and PJ, for thirty years, and never known he was Irish– maybe Mongolian, certainly Alamo Navajo, but not Irish. But then the handsome young cowboy with Libby,  our handyman of all trades Tyler Chavez, is (a) north Italian,* like me– his dad’s name was Scartaccini; (b) Hispanic in name, and (C) raised in an Anglo ranching Mormon family (but then Tom Torres told me 30 years ago that “Italians, Chinese, and black people are all ANGLOS.”) Not only is this New Mexico, the most ethnically complicated state, but it is Magdalena, of the cattle drives and mines and railroad, not to mention Navajos who stayed under Kit Carson’s radar and never got exiled to Bosque Redondo; where the third person we met when I decided to rent thirty- some years ago, an Anglo woman with a western tang who would  celebrate her 100th birthday in a month,  reassured me: ” You’ll find us real friendly– not like Catron county or Reserve. We’re real integrated– everybody marries everybody else.”

Yup– thank you Miz Brunson!

Cody and Neal both have Anglo surnames and recent Hispanic ancestry, but because our society is currently nuts on some issues, Cody is Hispanic and Neal isn’t.

*Sis Olney, rancher, considers herself ethnically Italian; her Italian great great grandfather, Joe Gianera, who arrived in 1859, is sometimes referred to as the first Anglo rancher in the county. Of course some of the more self- consciously Anglo Anglos thought he was a funny kind of Mexican because of his language…

Spring Puppies?

Larissa and Tavi are dancing for joy and have made (at least one) tie.

But as they say, wait, there’s more! If Lane has indeed bred her fine taigans, Rustam and Ooly, we are about to have the first of this more exotic variation too. Can’t wait– I am sure they will be the first working taigans in the SW or even in the states. Tell us the news!
Top two of Ooly; Rustam at bottom withDaniela’s Shunkar, bred here; everybody in between– all hard running high desert hounds.

UPDATE: Lane’s taigan litter is scheduled for next year and depends on somedemand. And Dr John has bred “our” Tigger– only living brindle Lashyn daughter, below– to tanpoint Saudi Prince. Both are serious coursing dogs. I know of no other details yet but will. Please contact me if you have a serious interest.

James Trujillo, RIP

My friend James “Viejo” Trujillo died today after a long struggle with diabetes. I’ll have a proper bio and memorial later, and a few stories. Raise a glass…

Update 8 November: his card. Normal service to resume after (still another) funeral…

(A happy Viejo story, previously blogged but worth repeating…)

… for a while almost 20 years ago he leased the bar. I was working in a corner there as I always have, when three junior cowboys from a neighboring county (guess which?) came in. One was offended by the sight of someone reading and was suddenly leaning over me: “Where you from?”

I said back with just a little less attitude: “Here.” Went back to editing. Kid shoves me: “Where you REALLY from?”

“HERE!” I stand up as he says “Where’r you born?”

… I am answering and starting to push back, at which point James is suddenly between us saying “He told you three fuckin’ times: HE’S FROM HERE!”

“He is… and you’re not. Your money is no good; the drinks are on me. Finish up… then you and your friends leave, and don’t come back.”

They left and I said, “Viejo, you didn’t have to do that.” He replied “The hell I didn’t! You drink your drink and shut up or I’ll throw your sorry ass out too.”

And one more for now with this wonderful language, a statement that only a cowboy could say. Around the same time as the last tale, some boors were badmouthing women in general on James’s watch at the Spur. He took it as long as he could, then came over, put his hands on the bar, and said: “I don’t know about you boys, but that ol gal I’m married to?– she’s one good son of a bitch!